Alcohol consumption increasing among Utahns

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SALT LAKE CITY – Statistics recently released by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control indicate Utahns are drinking more alcohol.

According to the data, in 2006 Utahns consumed an average of just under 2 gallons of alcohol each year; now that average has risen to about 2.5 gallons annually.

While the population increased by 22 percent between 2001 and 2009, alcohol consumption more than doubled. This means liquor sales are increasing at a greater rate than the population.

Officials with the DABC said a couple of factors are at play. Utah is following a national trend of increased alcohol sales, and officials believe the make-up of the state’s population is changing, and more people are drinking.

Alcohol consumer Brice Laris said he thinks the desire to relax is a factor.

"People are stressed out, and it's nice to go home after a long day of work and have a glass of wine, have a beer, relax a little bit,” he said.

Alcohol consumer Valerie Wiseman had a similar explanation.

"I personally drink more because of stress at work, so I go on the weekend and come get my alcohol and now that I have a 3-day weekend I'm gonna drink more this weekend than I typically do,” Wiseman said.

Data from the DABC lists some of top-selling alcoholic beverages. Among wine, the two top sellers were Kandall Jackson Chardonnay, which had sales numbers totaling $844,150 and Franzia Sunset Blush House, which did $782,900 in sales.

Among spirits, the top sellers are: Barton Vodka, $2.7 million in sales; Jagermeister, $2 million in sales; and Patron Silver Tequila, $1.8 million in sales.

Among heavy beer, which is beer with more than 3.2 percent alcohol content by weight, the best sellers were: Stella Artois, $1.354 million in sales; Icehouse, $1.353 million in sales; and Squatters Hop Rising, which had $1.29 million in sales.

Officials with the DABC said Utahns are buying more expensive liquor now than they did in 2008 and 2009, which they said is a sign of economic improvement.